When the social ills or sins of a nation go unnoticed, unmentioned, or unchallenged, is that nation really Christian? Or, when the church gives much less priority to its Gospel message while the nation’s culture, prosperity issues, and self-gratification are celebrated, is it really being Christian? Is there an enemy on the inside of the church?
The heart of ‘the good news’ celebrates suffering, sacrifice, death and resurrection! Its whole focus is upon one person whose life centered on others, their plight, and their access to the best that His kingdom offered. He overcame humanity’s greatest enemies by making Himself of no reputation and obedience, even unto the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 NKJV)
With that in mind, how can the 21st Century church justify its mild mannered approach to cultures, its commitment and challenges? The world’s ills call for a bold stance upon principles of righteousness, service and sacrifice. The Apostle Paul tells us that this was God’s aim and purpose ‘before the foundation of the world.’ (Ephesians 1:4) Modern times nor new technologies, or even new heresies and teachings can change the focus of Jesus to fit what are now base desires and lusts packaged in new forms. He ‘endured the cross’ and its consequences to rise to a new beginning and new victories that can be had by all those who will trust Him in faith.
This may explain the commonness of our modern church experience. It becomes even more piercingly obvious when we compare ourselves to that first victor and Overcomer? Does the message of the modern church resemble the message of an itinerate preacher from Nazareth? Our willingness to serve and sacrifice, perhaps even consider death in this cause, may be the very essence that is missing in these latter days. The power associated with His central message cannot be the church’s experience nor will others who observe and inquire feel its affect unless there is the same desire for the church to be rejoicing that “they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” (Acts 5:41 NKJV)
And emphasizing His blessings and benefits without focus upon His suffering sacrifice is dangerous. It may be the very cause that drives the question, ‘is the church really as ‘Christian’ as it proclaims? And it will have to reconsider the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:24-25, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
There is a church identified in scripture that wears the label ‘carnal.’ Its description fits these modern times in every way. And that church’s effectiveness as change agents, healers of the community’s ailments, or ministers of reconciliation was compromised . . . as it is today. (I Corinthians 3:1-4 NKJV)
The church may be its own enemy within, out of focus and existing aimlessly. Perhaps another look at Jesus will help!
Something to consider!